Let the kids name the school

Everybody in Fort St. John is talking about the new elementary school under construction.

Why?

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Because the school board has asked for suggestions from local residents on what it should be called.

While the working title of the school is Northeast elementary, School District 60 has received more than 70 submissions to name the two-storey, $31.1-million school set to open in the fall of 2020.

With the Fort St. John hospital right across the street, many of the suggested names recognize health care pioneers.

The top vote-getter so far, according to a story in The Citizen's sister newspaper, The Alaska Highway News, is Anne Young, the first registered nurse in the North Peace, who arrived in the area from England in 1930.

She delivered more than 300 babies during her 25-year career, frequently making horseback house calls in bad weather to reach her patients.

Along with other historical names, there have been several Dane-zaa words suggested to recognize the area's Indigenous people and ancestry.

Special thanks to the witty morons who suggested Schooly McSchoolface.

That doesn't reflect School District 60 naming protocol, which looks for names of geographic areas or individuals of historic, cultural, or social significance if they have been dead for at least five years.

If the newly elected School District 57 school board wants to generate more excitement about the replacement for Kelly Road Secondary School currently under construction and also slated for opening in fall 2020, maybe it should ask for local input on a new name for the Hart high school, with particular emphasis on the neighbourhood's preference.

Maybe people in the area are quite happy with keeping it Kelly Road but maybe they'd like to have a discussion about a new name for their new school.

By way of background, John Kelly, a surveyor and owner of a watch and jewelry shop in Prince George's early days, would still have Kelly Road and Kelly Street off Fifth Avenue named after him, so no historic slight by taking his name off the school.

This could be a great local history assignment for students at Kelly Road's feeder elementary schools - Hart Highlands, Glenview, Nukko Lake, Springwood and Heather Park - to make a case to name the high school they will eventually attend. Current Kelly Road students, particularly the ones studying history, could also take part.

There's no shortage of individuals from Prince George's history deserving of their name on Kelly Road high school, from Granny Seymour and Mary John to Bridget Morgan and Ted Williams.

At The Citizen, we're partial to John Houston, the founder of Prince George's first newspaper (although he has a whole town already named after him), or L.D. Taylor, the first editor of The Citizen, who was also elected mayor of Vancouver a record eight times.

Anyhow, school district trustees could look at a shortlist of history essays written by elementary students and current Kelly Road students before making the final choice.

Imagine the pride of the student who picks the winner.

The best way to keep history alive is to recognize deserving individuals when we name streets, parks and important civic buildings.

The best path to reconciliation with the Aboriginal community is to rename community places in their honour, to recognize the significant role they play in our past, present and future, like the City of Prince George did in naming Lheidli T'enneh Memorial Park. Regardless of the final name chosen, the community wins.

Ron Brent and D.P. Todd are the only two schools in Prince George named after an individual (the Centre for Learning Alternatives used to be named after John McInnis). Maybe it's time to recognize someone else from this city's rich and proud history.

How about it, School District 57?

-- Editor-in-chief Neil Godbout

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